Friday, 13 January 2017

Camping at Koitaki Country Club (Part 1)

Camping is best done together with our family, but if we don’t have our immediate family to share this refreshing outdoor activity with, our closest friends or fellow OFW’s will do just fine.

Koitaki Country Club is the only place that I know of in Papua New Guinea where an expat can spend a night out in a tent and enjoy the feeling of being in one with nature and become temporarily disconnected from our  usual busy lives.  The photo of me above is taken in one of the open fields in the areas within the club.

Except for the car on the far left, all of these vehicles are from our group. I went with the grey SUV on the left. Our belongings have made up most of the space in it thus, we were left with a very little legroom to wiggle around. Some of the Filipinos that I went with were cracking jokes all the time during the entire trip and it somehow made the occasional bumpy roads less noticeable. The establishment behind is the restaurant with a balcony overlooking the entire fields.

This is the pathway going out to the gates. Back in my younger days in the Philippines, we used to play baseball in an open field like this in the afternoon; looking at this picturesque view seemed to remind me of those days. If your place has this kind of road, you wouldn’t want to walk on these during the summer or the rainy seasons. It might get dusty if it was totally dried out by the summer heat or muddy during a heavy rain.

If you remember a scene from The Terminator 2, where the "Liquid Metal" robot was poured all over with liquid nitrogen, his feet were sticking onto the road as he walked over to the T1000 robot, which was played by the younger version of Arnold Schwarzenegger. From that scene, one can probably surmise the difficulty of keeping up a regular pace while walking on a muddy terrain.

Here’s an interesting billboard that you won’t miss to see if you happen to walk up to the restaurant. It has all the reminders that a first-timer guest should know for one’s safety and what’s not to do.

There’s a pond in the middle which is probably man-made to encourage the arrival of wild birds. Walking over the bridge are my friends from a different workplace. That pond bridge is nice, but I reckon it would look nicer with people waking over it so I stayed behind and snapped this photo just when they’re about to cross it.

The three colourful houses on the far right are the guesthouses. You can stay in one of those for K250 or K350; that’s about $79 and $110 US dollars. We were on a camping trip so we didn’t take one except for these friendly couple in the picture who booked one for an overnight stay because they tagged along their children with them.

Our camping spot is up the hill behind the houses.

This particular camping spot that we chose was on  top of the hill. The dusk was fast approaching so we hurriedly unpacked our things. This bag is mine and I only put emergency things in there like a bug spray, toiletries and a solar rechargeable lamp. I also brought the tent that I wrote about in one of my post last year. The green thing is a yoga mat. I figured it was more practical to bring one than an inflatable bed.

But it was not as comfortable.

The tent with a blue and orange colour is mine. It was super-easy to setup, all I need was to pull some strings up and it was standing on its own. I got this from a bargain sale at City Pharmacy for only $14 USD. The couple in the middle is Paul and Cess and they were setting up their own tent, which was really bigger. Unlike mine, their tent has an extra space for visitors apart from a private room.

Hmn, visitors, that I didn’t expect.

The management of KCC was thoughtful enough to consider placing a picnic table on top of this hill. It was a nice gesture. Just a suggestion to the management from this young blogger, I think that it’s also nice if there's a big umbrella or a shade of some sort to shield our foods from rain if it happens suddenly. But anyway, this table and the fireplace nearby are of the trivial things I am thankful to have around.

Thanks to the Koitaki Country Club management.

We camped nearby these two cylindrical water tanks. Here’s Cess preparing to cook our dinner on the designated fireplace. The people at the back are OFW’s from a sister company where Cess is working at. I think that another important aspect of camping is being able to experience cooking food in a primitive way. Here, the management has supplied us with firewood for a minimal price.

It’s fun cooking foods this way if you don’t mind the billowing smoke going to your direction every once in a while.

All of our tents were standing before the sun has set.  I was expecting the temperature to be cold but that wasn’t until dawn. But generally, it was slightly less warm in Koitaki than it is in POM proper. It was probably because of the higher winds that were constantly sweeping by the mountain skies.

On the few selected locations are these solar lamps mounted on a movable pole. It provides enough light for a certain area only, say, a good 2 meter radius underneath. We were given two but only one lighted up by itself when darkness came. 

The most economical application of solar power by far is through streetlights. I like the idea of having my own solar lamppost someday.

Just before the sun has set, we took the time to grill up pork meat and hotdogs. These would be added to our menu for the night. 

Someone from our group was kind enough to bring a hammock and attached it in between these trees. It looked nice from where I was sitting at because it seemed to complement the sun setting down from the horizon.

I swung my camera around and found two pairs of horses grazing around. If it were not for the houses nearby, it was easy to imagine that we were in some kind of paradise, with all those wild animals roaming around freely.

To give you an idea of how high this hill is, this is what the houses looked like from the top.

Before the night fell, I went down to see the other sites in the club. I ended up standing before a seasoned picnic table in between an old tree and a solar lamppost.  I kind of envision this area as a perfect place, aside from the comfort of our bed, to skim through the pages of an X-men comic.

X-men? Yeah, I know, I’m old.

When the night came, a blanket of total darkness covered the place. I switched on my solar power lamp to see how my tent would look like from the outside. The skies didn’t yield many stars on that night and judging from the amount of humidity, it felt as though a rain would come.

That begs a question, how does one know if it's going to rain without looking at the clouds? Long ago, I’ve read somewhere that if you can smell the scent of a flower from a distance, there’s a good chance it will rain.

I had smelled our dinner from my tent.

Here’s Jake, Malou, Cess and I. While the others were sitting next to the table, we were seated at the back of Paul’s pick up truck because the table could only accommodate so much. It did rain a little but disappeared quickly.  The night was filled with laughter from the funny stories everyone was sharing.

As the night grew deeper, we began to pipe down a little. The fireplace gave off waves of heat, keeping us warm from the slowly falling temperature. The firewood burned off slowly and we decided we’d just let it burn to discourage snakes that may happen to come around.

Here’s what the inside of my tent looked like in the night. At 9:30pm, I was already feeling sleepy. Perhaps because I was a bit tired from the office or because the sight of my tent was inviting. I told them I’d hit the sack and went straight to my tent. To keep my tent ventilated, I let the door open but kept the mesh on to prevent mosquitoes from coming in.

These are all about what we did on our first day in Koitaki Country Club. On the next post, I’ll continue about what we did on the next day.

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

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